Winnipeg police officers give testimony in trial of off-duty officer charged with assault

WINNIPEG — Two Winnipeg police officers who were first on the scene where a man alleges he was assaulted during an arrest four years ago gave their testimony in court – saying they were responding to call that an off-duty officer was being followed.

The trial of Winnipeg police officer Sean Cassidy continued in a Manitoba court on Wednesday. Cassidy has been charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm, dating back to an incident that occurred on the evening of March 27, 2017, and the early hours of March 28, 2017.

The charge has not been proven in court. Cassidy has pleaded not guilty.

Detective Constable Brody Kiez of the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) told the court on Wednesday he was on general patrol with his partner, Const. Chris Rivard, that night.

Kiez told the court they received a ‘Priority Zero’ dispatch – the highest priority of the WPS – at around 1 a.m. on March 28, 2017. The disptach said that an off-duty officer – later identified as Cassidy – needed assistance and was being followed.

Kiez told the court he and Rivard drove to the area, pulled into a parking lot along St. Mary’s Road and waited for the vehicles – a truck and a van – to pass them.

When they did, he said they pulled out behind and activated the emergency lights. Kiez said he had discussed with Rivard that this would be treated as a high-risk stop.

“The truck slammed on its brakes, and the driver’s door swung open. The driver leaped from the vehicle in an aggressive manner,” Kiez told the court, adding he had never seen something like this happen before during a traffic stop.

“It was a scary moment at that point in time for us.”

In their testimonies, both officers said they got out of the vehicle, pulled their firearms in the ready position and yelled, “Winnipeg Police. Show me your hands.”

Kiez said the Winnipeg police helicopter Air1 was above them.

Kiez told the court the driver got back in the vehicle, and Kiez went to the other side of the vehicle to get the passenger.

Rivard told the court that he saw an off-duty officer he later recognized as Sean Cassidy go to the driver’s side and pull the driver out of their truck.

“There was some movement between, with Patrol Sargent Cassidy, there was movement with the driver,” Rivard told the court, saying his view was obstructed by Cassidy.

He said there was a short struggle, and the driver was put on the ground. Rivard said he arrived to the driver, who he said had put his hands under his body in position called ‘turtling.’

Rivard said both he and Cassidy pulled at the man’s arms to get his hands behind his back. He said the driver was put in handcuffs.

Kiez told the court the passenger in the vehicle was put in handcuffs without incident.

At this point, Kiez said Cassidy briefed them on some details. He said Cassidy told them that there had been break and enters in the area south of the city, and one of the suspect vehicles had been an older truck.

Kiez said Cassidy told them he had been followed by a truck for an extended period of time.

In his testimony on Monday, Jamie Cote – the complainant in the case – alleged he had been followed by the van from La Salle, Man., and had been punched and kneed in the face during the arrest by a person who was not in uniform.

Rivard told the court he did not see Cassidy use force in the arrest.

Both Cote and the passenger of the vehicle were released with no charges or conditions.

The trial is set to continue Wednesday afternoon.

This is a developing story. More details to come.

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